The Truth

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Walking along beside the water, I noticed them in a distance.

Today was the first time I had ever visited the park, so I was unfamiliar with the surroundings.

Two beautiful birds were swimming in the pond near some water lilies.

With my camera in hand, I walked a little closer to photograph them.

I was soon to be disappointed.

The birds that I thought were so lovely were—–plastic.

Fake.

Just simulated reproductions of the real thing.

One had been fabricated with it’s neck down, as though it was drinking or getting something out of the water.

The other had its neck up.

I had been fooled.

Although the artificial birds provided some aesthetic appeal to the otherwise very natural scene, I was personally let down.

Many of us have never encountered plastic ducks in the water, but we’ve come face to face with something we thought was true that wasn’t.

Spiritually speaking, it is quite common to hear that there are many ways to Heaven.

Doing this.

Doing that.

Following a certain tradition…

We find these words in the New Testament:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

—John 14:6

Jesus is the way.

He is truth.

He is life.

Life for us.

No one can come to God the Father except through Him.

Coming into a believing relationship with Him, we find this truth.

Have you experienced this truth for yourself?

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the way

Commit Your Way

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Psalm 37:3-5

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in Him, and He will act.

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What can I do?

Trust.

Do good.

Dwell.

Befriend.

Delight.

Commit.

What will God do?

He will give.

He will act.

On this day that I call today, the future is unknown.

Unknown to me, yet known to God.

On this day that I call today, I must commit my way to Him.

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commit

Let Him Ask God

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Do you remember when you were a child?

You wouldn’t just walk away from your home without telling your family and asking permission.

In fact, you probably wouldn’t have made plans to do anything without talking to your parents first.

Virtually all your childhood plans were subject to the thoughts and guidance of your parents or guardians.

When you became an adult, things changed somewhat.

Being mature, many of your decisions could be made independently.

There was no longer any need to ask your parents about everything.

Still, it was a good thing to seek advice and listen to your parents’ opinions.

Parents are only human and, of course, they may not always know what’s best.

In thinking about this today, I was considering how we, as believers, have God as our Heavenly Father.

Even though we are adults, we are His children.

Unlike our earthly parents, God cannot make a mistake.

His judgment is always right and His guidance is perfect.

Knowing that, why is it that we make plans without asking what He thinks about it?

If we feel that we should seek the advice and opinions of our parents, shouldn’t we also ask the same of our Heavenly Father?

Shouldn’t all our plans be subject to the thoughts and guidance of God?

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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

—James 1:5-6

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lacks wisdom

A New Mind

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Who do you love?

Do you love someone who needs a hew heart?

A new mind?

Do you know someone who has a stubborn heart?

Once we have found the truth of God through Jesus, we change.

When we change, our hearts are turned toward God.

When our hearts are turned toward God, we begin to desire those that we love to have the same relationship with God as we do.

When those we love do not share in this greatest of blessings, we yearn for them.

We long for them to join us in the most precious relationship of all.

It hurts to watch those we love go about their daily lives so burdened with poor choices and the consequences of those choices.

It tugs at all we are when we know that if they possessed an obedient heart toward God, life could be so much more for them—–and not just now, but for eternity.

If you love someone who even denies that God is real, the weight is heavy as you hope for a new day when they will come to believe.

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, God speaks to the exiles, telling them that their hearts will change.

I know that God can change the hearts of those we love, even now.

Pray for those that you love.

Pray for a new mind.

A new heart.

One that is obedient……

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I will give them a new heart and a new mind. I will take away their stubborn heart of stone and will give them an obedient heart.

—Ezekiel 11:19

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God is Love

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Love grows…

Early this morning, I was pondering love.

Not just love, but how it is that we love.

Does it seem odd that we never run out of love to give?

Speaking as a parent, I know the feeling of having and loving an only child.

I loved him greatly—immensely.

Words could not have adequately expressed the magnitude of my love for him.

Then, I gave birth to a second child.

Without taking any love whatsoever away from my first child, I instantly loved my second child.

Greatly—immensely.

God gave me more love to give.

It’s not just about parental love, though that is strong.

The longer we live, the more people we meet.

The more people we meet, the more people we love.

No matter how many precious lives God allows us to care about, there is always–always–an abundant store of God’s love that is transferred through us.

This is true even as we begin to love groups of people—-serving the homeless at a soup kitchen or helping those who are hurt and displaced after a disaster.

The capacity to love grows as the need to love others increases.

When I think of it, I can compare this growing of love to a rose bush.

As we begin to love others in our lives, it’s like a bloom develops on a branch as new love grows.

Person by person, bloom by bloom, love bursts forth in color, proclaiming the greatest of emotions, never lacking and always abundant.

The Bible tells us in 1John 4:8 that God is love.

Could we love anyone, anywhere, if God had not given us love to give?

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Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

—1 John 4:8

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God is love

In Amazing Ways

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Sing praises to the Eternal!

Everyone, everywhere should know that God acts in amazing ways.

—Isaiah 12:5

Have you seen God work in amazing ways?

Sometimes, He may be working in an amazing way all around us, but we are focused elsewhere and we miss it.

Could it be that I could miss God at work?

How could I tune my senses to listen, look for and recognize God’s amazing acts all around me?

Every moment brings the possibility in which the miraculous works of God may be displayed.

Knowing that can bring a sense of excitement and awe as I anticipate His presence.

God truly acts in amazing ways.

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But Now You are Light

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For you were once darkness,

but now you are light in the Lord.

Live as children of light

(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

and find out what pleases the Lord.

—Ephesians 5:8-10

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On a Thousand Hills

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True thanks.

Kept promises.

Trust.

Praise…….

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O my people, listen!

For I am your God. Listen!

Here are my charges against you:

 I have no complaint about the sacrifices you bring to my altar, for you bring them regularly. 

But it isn’t sacrificial bullocks and goats that I really want from you.

 For all the animals of field and forest are mine!

The cattle on a thousand hills!

And all the birds upon the mountains! 

If I were hungry, I would not mention it to you—for all the world is mine and everything in it. 

No, I don’t need your sacrifices of flesh and blood.

What I want from you is your true thanks;

I want your promises fulfilled.

I want you to trust me in your times of trouble, so I can rescue you and you can give me glory.

—Psalm 50:7-15

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It Will All Happen

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I was a passenger in the car that day.

Riding down the highway, I noticed a large cloud in the sky.

It was such a captivating sight, it was difficult to look away.

As each moment passed, I didn’t want to miss any change or subtle nuance in the sky.

Have you ever wondered what it will be like when Jesus returns?

1 Corinthians 15:50-53 reads,

I tell you this, my brothers: an earthly body made of flesh and blood cannot get into God’s Kingdom. These perishable bodies of ours are not the right kind to live forever.

 But I am telling you this strange and wonderful secret: we shall not all die, but we shall all be given new bodies!  It will all happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky, and all the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies too.  For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever.

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Can you just imagine seeing Jesus returning in the sky as big as that cloud?

What a glorious sight that will be!

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Transient

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Faith.

Believing.

Knowing in our hearts.

Touching what is not seen with outstretched hands of hope.

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So we do not lose heart.

Though our outer self is wasting away,

our inner self is being renewed day by day.

For this light momentary affliction

is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.

For the things that are seen are transient,

but the things that are unseen are eternal.

—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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The Lord is Good

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What does it mean to depend on God?

To trust Him in every area of my life?

What does it mean to trust His goodness?

How can I search for Him throughout all of my day?

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The Lord is good to those who depend on Him,
    to those who search for Him.

—Lamentations 3:25

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Seek Peace

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The wasp was quietly exploring the blossoms of the Queen Anne’s Lace plant.

How delicate they are, like fine needlework!

The wasp could have been coming after me, deciding to sting.

He didn’t.

He remained calm and quiet, at peace with me.

We can make decisions like that, as well.

We don’t have to cause pain.

Sometimes—–we can just keep smelling the flowers, choosing peace.

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Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

—Psalm 34:14

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Anyone to Perish

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My prayer for many people is that they not die without knowing the Lord as their Savior.

There are movies about end times and science fiction shows about planetary disaster.

But, really, when a person dies, that is the “end of the world” for them.

I want them to know Jesus before that happens, don’t you?

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The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

—2 Peter 3:9

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The Purpose of the Lord

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It was a quiet morning, warm and inviting.

Stepping out onto the boardwalk at the park, the scenery was familiar.

How many times had I visited this place, looking out over the lake, taking in all the beauty of my surroundings?

Within the first moment of my arrival, I noticed a graceful, white heron posing effortlessly among the plants growing by the water’s edge.

I had often seen birds like this before, but today was different.

God had, in the past several days, been revealing a new direction for me.

There are times when God speaks to each of us to lead us to something new.

He may confirm in our hearts whom we should marry or what career to pursue.

He may reveal to us a new ministry opportunity or He may direct us to begin or end our involvement in a certain area.

Today was just like the other days I had visited the park—-except that it wasn’t.

God had been speaking to my heart about a specific direction for my life, and I was listening.

Proverbs 19:21 says,

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

The plans that are in my mind will ultimately be aligned with God’s purpose, if I am willing to listen and heed His voice.

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purpose

Let Us Love

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I received three gifts this week from my sons.

They were gifts of love, and I will cherish that love, because my heart is filled with love for them.

In thinking about these recent gifts, something deep inside of me realizes that the gifts were not just from them.

God was loving me through my sons and their thoughfulness.

When I think of the love shown to me this week, my heart will smile.

God loves me…

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1 John 4:7-8

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

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He Refreshes My Soul

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

—-Psalm 23:1-6

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Flowers Will Bloom

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A wasteland.

Right after a natural disaster, that’s exactly what things look like.

Nothing in place.

Most everything is broken.

What could thrive there?

A wasteland.

A vast area of dry, rocky land with no vegetation.

What could thrive there?

You might not have experienced a natural disaster or ever even seen land devoid of plant life and water, but I’ll bet you’ve known a different kind of wasteland.

Spiritual wasteland.

Relational wasteland.

Financial wasteland.

These wastelands are real, all right.

What can thrive there?

Only the rocky, dusty soil of guilt, regret, and defeat.

It’s no place to be, yet once there, it’s hard to imagine circumstances getting better.

It’s hard for us, but not for God.

When He sees the desert, He knows He can bring the rain.

He can see the flowers bursting forth from the ground before a seed has even been covered.

When God sees our wastelands, He knows it can change.

He knows there can be spiritual healing, if we want it.

He knows that relationships can be healed.

He knows that He can provide for us when we trust Him.

He sees what we cannot see.

If you’re living in a wasteland right now, talk to God.

Pray and open your heart.

Ask Him to restore what is dry and barren.

Pray for the flowers……..

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The desert will rejoice,
    and flowers will bloom in the wastelands.

—Isaiah 35:1

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Along the Road

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There was once a blind man.

A man who was alive at the time Jesus was here on Earth.

This blind man’s life would soon be changed forever:

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

—Mark 10:46-52

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What do you think you would do if you had been that blind man?

Would you have followed Jesus on the road?

What if that happened today?

Would you get in the car with Jesus and just go with Him down the road, wherever He went?

Jesus has given us the greatest gift of all.

The gift of salvation.

The gift of eternity with Him in Heaven.

Should we get in our cars and follow Him along the road, wherever He goes?

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Rejoice and Be Glad

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Driving along in the shopping area of a nearby city, my husband noticed a fountain that had been placed in the parking lot.

As we drove past the plumes of pulsing water, he noticed that a duck had found the fountain, as well.

Quickly, I grabbed my camera and got out of the car while my husband found a place to park.

The duck was quite obliging in my quest to photograph him as he was enjoying his moments of refreshment.

His orange feet and toes were being constantly washed with the motion of the water as though he were standing in a Jacuzzi tub.

He was magnificently colored with a bright blue stripe on his side.

God created ducks to joyously live and play in the water.

On a hot day, surrounded by concrete and parked cars, this bird found an unexpected respite.

In the middle of an inhospitable environment, a silent invitation to play, drink, and cool off was answered by a

mottled duck, happy to accept.

Aren’t there times when God provides such things for us?

On a tired afternoon, when weariness weighs heavy, suddenly—–there it is.

An encouraging note from a friend, a surprise birthday party or a roadside park, complete with a bench in the shade.

God knows what we need and He knows what brings us joy.

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

—Psalm 118:24

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eternal light

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There are times when the magnificence of the sky captures my attention.

On this day, the sun was breaking forth through an opening in the clouds.

Other beams were bursting out with brilliance from behind.

If God allows us to see such resplendent scenes while we are here on Earth, just imagine what it will be like when His glory will replace the light of the sun and the moon!

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“No longer will the sun be your light by day Or the moon be your light by night; I, the Lord, will be your eternal light; The light of my glory will shine on you.”

—Isaiah 60:19

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Fruit

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But the fruit of the Spirit is

love,

joy,

peace,

forbearance,

kindness,

goodness,

faithfulness,

gentleness

and self-control.

Against such things there is no law.

—Galatians 5:22-23

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fruit of the

Restore Us

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It has surely happened to you before.

Working at the computer, things just go from bad to worse.

Frustration builds as the attempts to fix a problem fail, one by one.

Finally, with all other options exhausted, the decision is made.

Start over.

Click on the “restore” button.

Things go back to the beginning, before the difficulties and mistakes began.

The restore button could be affectionately called the, “start over” or “second chance” button.

We are in need of spiritual restoration.

Without God, things have gone from bad to worse.

Our frustration has increased as our attempts to fix all our problems have failed, one by one.

At some point, with all other options exhausted, we may make the best decision we have ever made.

Start over.

This time, with God in charge.

This time, trusting Jesus as our Savior.

This time, allowing Him to handle our life situations.

This time, we are restored, AND forgiven.

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Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

—Psalm 80:3

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Follow Me

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And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

—-Matthew 4:18-20

Peter and Andrew.

Two common men.

Two common men working at a common job—fishing.

Although it was common, it was a needed vocation.

Catching fish provided food for the people.

It wouldn’t really have mattered what job Peter and Andrew had; I believe they would have left any job to follow Jesus.

What if these events had happened in today’s world?

And Jesus, walking in the business complex, saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, working at computers in an office.  He said, “Follow Me!” and they both walked away from their computers and left with Him.

Just think about what that would look like…..

The two doctors left the hospital and followed Him.

The two firemen left their trucks and followed Him.

The two factory workers left their assembly lines and followed Him.

That brings me to a point of personal reflection:

What is it that I am doing, that if Jesus called to me, I would walk away from to follow Him?

What is it that you are doing?

Would you walk away?

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follow Me

But Seek First

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Seek.

Pursue.

Look.

Search.

We see those words all the time.

We say those words all the time.

“I am seeking an apartment closer to my workplace.”

“Within the next year, I will pursue a degree in business from the local college.”

“I am looking for a good mechanic who can repair my car.”

“I have been searching for love my entire life.”

So, since those are familiar words, what does it mean to seek the kingdom of God?

And, beyond that, to seek it first?

Matthew 6:33 reads, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

How can we seek, look for, search for, and pursue God’s kingdom and His righteousness?

Jesus said,

 “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

—Matthew 6:31-34

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Trust in the Lord

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

—Proverbs 3:5-6

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My Peace

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Peace.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines peace in one form as “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —John 14:27

Jesus can certainly give us freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.

Simply put, we can have freedom from worry, anxiety and fear.

It’s more than that, however.

Jesus’ peace is His peace.

A divine peace that cannot be fully described.

What is worrying you today?

What is causing anxiety to well up inside you?

What is inviting fear into your heart?

Ask Jesus to give you His peace.

Talk to Him about the things that are troubling you.

Jesus is with right there.

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Love Is

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In the last day or so, I seem to be really focusing on the lyrics of songs I am hearing on the radio.

Words that I have heard before somehow seem to be coming to rest in my mind in a way they hadn’t previously.

Here are some of the words I was listening to more closely this afternoon while driving home from work:

Love, take these words that I’m speaking
Love, take these thoughts that I’m thinking
Love, take me over
Love, fill up all of my space and
Love, stand right here in my place
Love, hear this prayer that I’m praying
Love, take me, love, take me over
Love, take me over

—Love Take Me Over by Steven Curtis Chapman

Specifically, the idea of love standing right here in my place was of particular interest to me.

When I am confronted with unkind words spoken to me, what would it be like if I stepped out of the way and “love” stepped in and took my place?

How would personified “love” respond?

If someone is angry with me, what would happen if “love” stepped in again?

What if I just stepped out of my little circle and love took my place?

When I am faced with a choice to minister to another’s needs, what would happen if “love” stepped in?

What if “love” always stepped in?

Would my life be vastly different?

Would yours?

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

—1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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love is final

What Is It, Lord?

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It was a clear night and totally perfect for viewing.

A friend had told me about an application for my cell phone that would inform me of visable passes of the International Space Station.

Being excited about possibly seeing it pass overhead, I went outside just a few moments before it was to appear.

Staring at the sky in the area that it was supposed to be coming from, I saw an airplane at first.

Then, I found it!

Gliding smoothly through the sky like a pearl dropping effortlessly through a container of oil, its bright white light traveled over a backdrop of darkness.

I hadn’t even thought about photographing it.

I did have my cell phone with me because I had wanted to refer to the application to learn exactly the time it was to come by my area.

Quickly, I took a photo of it with my phone.

Of course, the photograph did not turn out well, but I had to try.

Looking at it later, it actually looks like more than just a white dot in the sky.

Although it is terribly fuzzy, I can almost make out a shape within the area of light.

When the next pass happens, I’m going to be out with camera in hand, ready to see what I can do!

Besides the International Space Station, I know that there are many satellites that orbit the earth.

It is still amazing to consider how a satellite can transmit a sports event to various places around the globe as it is occurring.

Messages and images can reach people separated by great distances at the same moment.

Pondering this idea, I realize that God sometimes works in this way.

He may be preparing the heart of one person to hear a message from Him at the same time He is preparing the heart of another.

In the book of Acts, chapter 10, we find the account of the meeting of Cornelius and Peter.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.  One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.  Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants.  

—verses 1-7

Cornelius told these men everything and had them start on a journey to Joppa. Before the men could reach Peter, God sent a vision to Peter. Afterwards, God spoke to Peter as the men arrived at the house, telling him to go with them, because He has sent them.

God sent a vision to Cornelius about Peter.

He obeyed God’s instructions.

God sent a vision to Peter, preparing him to meet Cornelius.

He obeyed His instructions.

When I see God at work in my own life or in other’s lives in this way, it brings great joy to my heart.

It is a time when I realize God’s plan for that moment is coming together with divine direction—across the street, across the country or across the world.

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what is it

Love

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Do you remember the sound of your mother’s voice when you were a child as she called you to come into the house?

What did it sound like when your father called out, motioning you to get into the car to go for a drive?

If you close your eyes and become still for a moment, can you recall their faces when they presented you with a gift?

Was there a day when one of them told you to step quietly to a tree because a nest of baby birds had started to chirp high in the branches?

Can you reassemble the memory of your parents sitting proudly in the audience at one of your ballgames, recitals, plays or graduations?

What did their faces show?

Loving parents live with an awareness of where their children are.

When it is “time to come in” to the house, they instruct them to do so, providing guidance, shelter and direction.

Parents keep children by their sides most of the time, grasping hold of moments to share new things with them.

As a parent gives a gift to their child, there is joy in seeing the delight in their son or daughter’s eyes.

When a parent sees the opportunity to introduce their child to something of wonder, there is a certain happiness that comes from seeing a look of awestruck fascination forming on their little one’s face.

As a loving mom or dad gazes out to the ball field, theater stage or concert hall, their hearts fill with gladness at the knowledge of their children’s dedication to giving their best.

Our Heavenly Father knows where His children are every second.

When it is best to “come in” He calls to us to rest in His shelter.

Our Creator grasps hold of moments in our lives to share new things with us.

When our Heavenly Father chooses a gift for us, surely there must be joy as He sees the delight in our eyes upon receiving it.

As He shows us more and more of His great wonders, don’t you suppose that He is pleased with our fascination?

When He has given us opportunities to give our best in following His leading, don’t you suppose that our Heavenly Father is glad as He sees our efforts?

When our Heavenly Father knows that we love Him, don’t you think it makes Him smile?

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love